Posted 25th October 2021 | 4 Comments

Chancellor's rail investments mostly not new money

Chancellor's rail investments mostly not new money

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a £7 billion plan to improve trains and trams, mainly in the midlands and north, but only £1.5 billion of this is new. In a weekend interview, he said there would be £1.07 billion for projects in Greater Manchester, £830 million for West Yorkshire, £570 million for South Yorkshire, £1.05 billion for the West Midlands, £310 million for the Tees Valley, £540 million for the west of England and £710 million for Liverpool. Railway Industry Association chief executive Darren Caplan said: 'Regional and city transport systems across the UK have a pivotal role to play in driving the economic recovery post Coronavirus, as well as boosting productivity and growth in the long run. We look forward to seeing the full details in the Comprehensive Spending Review on Wednesday 27 October.' Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham welcomed the news as 'an important first step' but shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said she hoped the funds will help. She continued: 'What we see from this government is lots of announcements and not much delivery.'

HS2 eastern leg 'set to be cut back' 

The eastern leg of HS2 is set to be reduced in scope to cut costs, according to unconfirmed reports this morning. With the Chancellor's spending review just two days away, the Independent has claimed that HS2 trains will use existing 'classic' track between the West Midlands and South Yorkshire, with a new line only being built between the Sheffield area and Leeds. The controversial Toton Hub between Derby and Nottingham is also expected to be deleted from the plans. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been remaining tight-lipped about possible cutbacks, and also refused to comment on the prospects for Northern Powerhouse Rail. Labour has dubbed the potential reductions as a 'betrayal'. The party's shadow transport secretary Jim McMcMahon said: 'Labour has already committed to the full delivery of HS2, and that includes the eastern leg. We’d work with mayors and leaders in our regions to make that happen.' The Department for Transport's long-delayed Integrated Rail Plan is also expected to wait a little longer. It had been thought that the Plan would be published alongside Wednesday's budget, but this now seems unlikely.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Stephen Dearden, New Mills

    In view of the steep increases in fares between Manchester and Euston I would not be surprised to see a reduction in demand, especially in the leisure sector, even post covid. The rational for extending HS2 beyond Birmingham may become more questionable.

  • Stuart Porter, Kettering

    It seems that the government has now backtracked on the suggestion that it would axe the eastern leg entirely, but will still be making significant cuts.

    The new station in Leeds stands a good chance of being built and new HS2 rails connecting it to South Yorkshire are still planned. However, PART of HS2's line capacity will be lost by the latest suggestion of using of old rails between South Yorkshire and the Midlands. XCountry and other services will need to be recast to accommodate HS2 trains.

    I imagine the lightly loaded HS2 service to York will be dropped, which presents an opportunity for that half of what was a double length HS2 service to be reversed to Nottingham (if Toton is built) to provide a through Nottingham to Euston service,
    ~ the Birmingham to Newcastle service could similarly divide to provide a through Nottingham to Birmingham service - perhaps continuing via Newark & Doncaster to Newcastle replacing the XCountry service,
    ~ a Birmingham to Leeds service to run via Sheffield as NPR apparently want - creating a potential connecting service to/from Sheffield,
    ~ the Cardiff to Nottingham XCountry service to be diverted via Toton to link Derby to HS2 and
    ~ a Leeds to Swindon (for Cardiff & Bristol) via key stations to Bedford & Oxford post E-W electrification - Two Midlands Connect ideas combined as one - pending extra line capacity between Oxford & Reading. Meanwhile XCountry offer Oxford to Reading, Southampton & Bournemouth connections.

    The above potential answer to the IRP works even better if East Midlands Parkway replaces Toton and Trent junction is grade separated for some movements. That appears to have been accepted. It definitely was an input to the Integrated Rail Plan.

  • Chris Jones-Bridger, BUCKLEY Flintshire

    As the strategic rail plan that was to be published prior to this weeks budget isn't now expected for several weeks we remain in the dark over future investment priorities. Judging from press reports it looks like the grand rhetoric of associated with HS2's eastern arn, Northern Powerhouse & Midlands Engine will be replaced by at best continued make do & mend on the existing network.

    The headline 'investment' announced this weekend does require a reality &:fact check. Projects such as the Metrolink trams & battery Merseyrail 777's are already announced & funded projects. Besides while the headline figure appears large over what timescale is it being delivered &:what is the genuine new spending going to buy?

  • H. Gillies-Smith, South Milford

    Well Rachel, it's not with the government to deliver it's more local, Northern Powerhouse Rail to my mind. What have they done for the east side of the Pennines including the trans Pennine route, that's it, nothing.
    Sorry forgot, security fencing from Leeds to Selby to keep the cabbages from straying onto the railway.